Pregnant with Hashimoto’s

I’m back after a long break from blogging! I had to step away from the thyroid world for a bit to preserve my own sanity. I started to feel like I knew too much; you know, the more you know the more you suffer. Before I go on, let me just preface this by saying that I LOVE all the advocacy sites out there to help people like us. I am so glad I had a place to connect with others and get direction and ideas as to how to advocate for myself and optimize my treatment. This information was invaluable. The problem was that I became stable and healthy and continuous reading of other people’s symptoms, symptoms I hadn’t experienced, links to other diseases, etc… was starting to take me away from the present moment and fueled my fear and anxiety that bad things were awaiting me. I recall someone asking on a popular thyroid site, “Where are all the people that are doing well?” I can tell you where they are; out living their lives and free from fear of the next bad thing.

So that’s what I did; I unplugged and started living my life. I still answered people’s personal emails and use my knowledge in my therapy practice to encourage client’s presenting with depression and anxious symptoms to go back to their physician’s and ask to have a complete thyroid panel. I educate my colleagues on how thyroid dysfunction can mimic mental illness. I encourage all of my friends of childbearing age to have their thyroid’s checked prior to becoming pregnant. When I was experiencing the hyperthyroid symptoms of postpartum thyroiditis 2 years ago, and had just received my diagnosis of Hashimoto’s, I searched for a way that something good could come out of it. I’ve found the good; I feel so blessed that I have been able to help others and that I can continue to do so.

This is what brings me back to blogging; I’m 8 months pregnant with baby number 2 right now. My first endocrinologist, the one that told me I would likely never lose the tremendous amount of weight I gained from the pregnancy with my son, also mentioned that I may have a hard time becoming pregnant again. Like many things she told me, this too turned out to be not true. Of course, I was terrified about how hashi’s would affect by unborn baby. I didn’t have to go back to the internet to scour the information; I already had read it.

I can’t control a lot with this disease; I can just take care of myself to the best that I know how and leave the rest up to God. So far things are going so well! With the collaboration of my OB and Endocrinologist, I’ve been able to keep m y thyroid levels optimal. I have also been able to continue working out (far less and more modified at this point in pregnancy, but still able)! I’ve had no complications, baby is healthy, and I’m on track for a healthy weight gain (23 pounds at 32 weeks). So I’ve been thinking about the direction I want to take with my blogging…maybe It’ll be about ME. All of me: A mother, a lover of cooking healthy foods, and fitness addict. Oh yeah, and I just also happen to have hashimoto’s as well. You see, I am (and so are you!) so much more than a medical condition.

32 weeksbow

The Plan that Worked for ME!

Let me begin by telling you that I’m not claiming to have all the answers, and I can’t say that just because this worked for me, it’ll work for you. Every BODY is different. Even those of us with the same diagnosis of Hashimoto’s are different. I was diagnosed accurately pretty early on so treatment started earlier than some of you that went years suffering or that had been misdiagnosed. This is not a phase or a diet, this is a lifestyle change. I have spent the past year researching and tweaking my lifestyle so I can feel the best possible, and because there were so many sad stories out there, I wanted to find something that worked for me and share in the hopes to inspire another fellow thyroid sufferer to find what works for them.

I get a lot of emails asking me what in particular I eat or don’t eat, and I decided to write it out. I want to be VERY CLEAR that I am not a dietician, nutritionist, or a doctor. So PLEASE check with your doctor or do your own due diligence before starting any new program. I believe in treating this illness with a combination of thyroid meds (whichever combo works best for you) and through diet and lifestyle.

Step 1.

Grab a calendar. Go to the date 1 year from now and circle it. This is your healthversary date. You need to give this a solid year before you give up. I’ll say more after you complete step 2.

Step 2.

scale

Throw out or have someone hide your scale. Seriously. So many People start a workout regimen and expect fast results. Unfortunately, when results aren’t immediate, they get discouraged and give up. I have a friend that joined a boot camp program at her gym and gained weight in the first month. This has also happened to me. There are several reasons why, but in short, the scale isn’t accurately reflecting what is going on. Provided you are eating well, when you begin an exercise routine and start shredding previously sedentary muscles, your muscles hold onto more water as they repair, thus making the numbers on the scale bigger. Plus, ever heard the old adage muscle weighs more than fat? Let your body get used to such fluctuations, and instead go by how you FEEL instead of a number on the scale. At this point, you may be thinking, “Well you weighed yourself, you know what you lost”. Sometimes it was those darn doctors that made me get on the scale, but otherwise I tried to do quarterly weigh ins to track progress from one regimen to another. This brings me back to step one. If you give this a go, you are not allowed to re-evaluate until the 1 year mark. My point, Rome wasn’t built overnight and neither was your body. Be patient and allow yourself some time to see desired changes. Regardless of weight loss, remember, you are doing this to better your health.

Step 3.

shortvuts

Exercise. This is a must! We have sluggish metabolisms and the best way to kick ‘em into high gear is by engaging in some sort of physical activity. A lot of research for thyroid patients tout weight training combined with HIIT (high intensity interval training) as effective modes to weight loss. I personally did a bunch of things; I trained for and ran a half marathon, did 60 days of Insanity, 90 days of P90x, and now do a mix of HIIT/cycling/running/weights. This sounds intense, I know. I actually am one of those people who enjoy working out! I find this is a great stress reliever and satisfies my competitive spirit. I currently work out 6 days a week for around 30-60 minutes depending on the activity. My advice is to find something you enjoy or can at least tolerate. I like the structure of programs; there is a beginning and an end, and I like to mix things up. If you hate it, you will not continue to do it!

If you have any physical limitations, find a way to work around them. Google is your friend. Money is not an obstacle here either people. You don’t need to go to a gym. A Jillian Michael’s DVD is $10 and youtube offers free HIIT workouts or go to dailyhiit.com. Bodybuilding.com offers many free workouts as well. If 30-60 minutes sounds too intense, start with 10-15 minutes and work your way up.

Step 4.

cheap and easy

Diet. This is the tricky one. When I got diagnosed with this disease and started searching around a lot of stuff on the internet came up about paleo, low-carb, and gluten free. I made a lifestyle change I knew I could live with. For me, Paleo was tough because I LOVE my oatmeal. I read a lot about gluten, including the book Wheat Belly, and decided I could make this change permanent. I also eliminated cruciferous vegetables in the beginning (due to having a goiter), and reintroduced in the cooked form and in moderation once my goiter disappeared. I wrote more in detail about goitrogens here https://hashimomblogs.wordpress.com/2013/02/08/spicy-shrimp/. I also avoid soy, and limit my dairy. Truth be told, I’m fairly certain I’m sensitive to dairy, but I struggle with saying I can NEVER have cheese or yogurt again. I know how my body reacts, so I do my best to eat sparingly. Some people also limit or avoid nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers). I personally don’t feel like I react negatively, so I do not limit. I recommend keeping a food journal to track how you react to certain foods. I use myfitnesspal; it’s free, easy to use, and provides a wealth of information.

A word of caution when using any calorie counting or food logging application. When people go on “diets” they immediately think “eat less, workout more”. Myfitnesspal will tell you that if you are looking to lose weight and are a female that you should limit to 1200. I’ve NEVER cut my calories so low. The long reason is another blog post, but the short answer is because we NEED food for FUEL. After coming off a pregnancy, I needed to re-understand portions, so I initially weighed and measured my food and put myself at a NET calorie goal of 1400 when I had 65 pounds to lose. Net meaning if I burned 500 calories working out, I would aim for 1900 calories. 1900 – 500 calories burned in exercise = 1400. There are plenty of calculators online to give you an estimate of your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure). At my weight now my calorie “goal” for maintenance is to net 2040 calories a day! Now I just go by my hunger; some days I’m sure I’m over, some days under. It tends to even out.

I prescribe to a whole foods way of eating, popularly referred to as “clean” eating.

Clean Eating “Principles”:

1. Choose whole, natural foods and seek to eliminate or minimize processed foods.

Processed foods are anything in a box, bag, can, or package, and although there are always a few exceptions to the rule (like a bag of fresh green beans), the majority of your foods should be fresh.

2. Choose unrefined over refined foods.

While it may not be possible all the times, you can up your intake of whole grains like brown rice and quinoa. Beans and legumes are also important. Clean sugars include honey, maple syrup, and dehydrated sugar cane juice.

3. Include some protein, carbohydrate and fat at every meal.

Most of us typically do well with carbohydrates and fat, but we often lack protein, especially in the early part of the day, like at breakfast and lunch. Protein is an important muscle-builder, and it can also help curb your appetite. When eaten throughout the day, it keeps us feeling full longer. Be aware of the kinds of meals you put together and space out your protein.

4. Watch out for fat, salt, and sugar.

This is easier than you think, particularly if you’ve cut out processed foods, which are responsible for most of our excess calories and high levels of fat, sugar, and salt. Clean foods are usually naturally low in all of these ingredients.

5. Eat five to six small meals throughout the day.

This usually pans out into three main meals and two or three hefty snacks. Eating this way prevents you from skipping meals and overeating. It also keeps your blood sugar levels steady so energy doesn’t lag.

6. Don’t drink your calories.

High calorie drinks like specialty coffees and soft drinks, on average, tack on an extra 400 to 500 calories a day. Choose water first, or my personal favorite, unsweetened tea (any flavor). Other clean drinks: low-fat or skim milk and 100 percent fruit juice diluted with sparkling water.

A SAMPLE Meal Day:

A quick search for “clean” recipes will bring up several resources; every recipe I’ve posted is considered “clean” as well.

Breakfast: Old Fashioned Oatmeal (Gluten Free) made with coconut milk and cinnamon; 4 egg whites and 1 egg topped with salsa. Coffee. Homemade coffee creamer.

Morning snack (after my workout): Protein shake made with almond milk, chocolate protein powder (raw warrior), and frozen berries

Lunch: 2-3 Turkey muffins (http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/video-jamie-eason-turkey-meatloaf-muffins.htm) and vegetable or salad; sweet potato

Afternoon snack: Almonds, Organic Greek yogurt (plain) with kiwi or blueberries

Dinner: Lean meat (Tilapia, turkey, chicken) and vegetable

NOTE: I food prep on Sundays; this is a tremendous time saver; it takes me about 2 hours to prep easily accessible food for my family of 3 that lasts until Thursday.

Step 5:

Keep stress as low as possible. Meditate. Sleep at least 8 hours.

This is A LOT in one post. I’d be happy to elaborate or answer any questions!

In Support of Mandatory Thyroid Testing in Pregnancy

As we are nearing the first birthday of my son, I have spent some time in reflection on the journey that we have undergone over the last few years to get to this place.

Unknowingly, the beginning of my thyroid journey started with the back to back losses of two pregnancies. Every time I became pregnant, I literally gained 8-10 pounds in a matter of a week. After each miscarriage, I would lose a few of the pounds, but had a difficult time losing the rest despite my extremely active lifestyle and good diet. I went in to my general practitioner to specifically have my thyroid checked and it came back “in range”.

After the second miscarriage and my OB telling me it was just “bad luck”, I switched to an infertility clinic in an effort to prevent miscarriage number 3. I wasn’t sure my heart could handle another disappointment. The specialty clinic performed several tests including a check of my TSH levels. The numbers came back at 2.94, which I now know are not optimal for a succesful pregnancy, but at the time she said they were “in range” so I listened. My antibodies were never checked despite my family history of thyroid disease.

When we conceived what would (luckily) become our son, I was asked to come in immediately upon testing positive for pregnancy. More blood was drawn, and my progesterone levels came back dangerously low. I was supplemented immediately, and offered a regimen of baby aspirin and prednisone. Prednisone is a steroid and is classified as a Category C drug. My OB stated there was a theory that when taken in the first trimester, the prednisone could prevent a woman’s body from attacking the baby. There was no evidence that this was what was happening to me, but I decided it was worth a try as I had little confidence in my body’s ability to support a pregnancy. The risks of taking prednisone weighed heavily on me; low birth weight, premature delivery and cleft palate. However, I was desperate for something to work.

And work it did. Or maybe it was my pleading prayers to God. Perhaps a bit of both. My son was born just shy of 40 weeks gestation at 8 pounds 2 ounces and has perfect lips! However, any informed individual living with a thyroid disease could read the above 3 paragraphs and pick out immediately the warning signs that I was suffering from an undiagnosed thyroid disease. Rapid weight gain, miscarriages, low progesterone, strong family history, and although my TSH was “in range”, the American Thyroid Association recommends TSH levels in the first trimester be between .1-2.5. With a TSH at almost 3, I was suffering from overt hypothyroidism during my pregnancy and went untreated.

As mentioned in earlier posts, I wasn’t diagnosed until after my son was born…when my thyroid went completely haywire (thyroid storm) and the symptoms had me feeling like I belonged in the hospital or a mental institute! I can’t say I’m upset at the trajectory of my story, but more disappointed in the knowledge that this is likely happening to many more women. I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason. If I had doctors that were more diligent and informed I wouldn’t have the son I have today. I also believe that God doesn’t allow anything so bad to happen to prevent any good from coming from it.

I wish for a day where early screening is mandatory as it is just a simple blood test. Currently this is a controversial subject as the experts are mixed about the cost effectiveness of screening all pregnant women. Meanwhile there is evidence that women with even mild thyroid dysfunction have double the risk of miscarriage and seven times greater risk of stillbirth.

This has become my new mission. I hope that through advocacy and spreading knowledge that someone gets their happily ever after before having to learn the hard way. So now, while other women are passing on tips to deal with morning sickness, I’m advocating for them to get their thyroid checked.

Me and my lil love 🙂

nolan and mom

Maple Pop Crunch and Coconut Oil Incorporation

Probably my favorite discovery of 2012 was coconut oil. I used it first for my homemade body butter, and then moved on to cooking with it. There are many health claims associated with coconut oil; I am particularly interested in its effectiveness with thyroid health (duh!).

Here is an excerpt from an article taken from the Dr. Oz website on the benefits of coconut oil:

“Studies have shown that intake of coconut oil can help our bodies mount resistance to both viruses and bacteria that can cause illness. Even more, it also can help to fight off yeast, fungus and candida.

Coconut oil can also positively affect our hormones for thyroid and blood sugar control. People who take coconut oil also tend to have improvements in how they handle blood sugar since coconut can help improve insulin use within the body. Coconut oil can boost thyroid function helping to increase metabolism, energy and endurance. It increases digestion and helps to absorb fat-soluble vitamins.”

You can read the entire article at http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/surprising-health-benefits-coconut-oil.

The recommended dose is 2 tablespoons per day for us thyroid sufferers. I take 1 teaspoon in my morning cup of coffee and incorporate it in many recipes in place of Olive Oil. I can say the biggest difference I’ve noticed is my digestion issues have disappeared. It has also helped me with some bathroom issues if you know what I mean 🙂

A friend of mine recently introduced me to a new snack called Maple Pop Crunch. This is absolutely delicious, and should be made at your own risk…I liken it to “healthy crack” cause it is soooo addicting.

Let’s call a spade a spade here. This is a treat that is about 1100 calories for the whole batch; ONE serving (1/6th of the bath) is 180. Portion wisely.

Maple Pop Crunch

1/2 pack of organic brown rice cakes, broken into popcorn size pieces (6 rice cakes)
1/4 cup Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
1/3 cup Pure organic Maple Syrup
Sea salt to taste
DSC_0012
  • Preheat over to 325 degrees
  • Over medium heat, simmer together the coconut oil, syrup and sea salt for about 5 minutes

DSC_0013

  • Pour over rice cake bits, mixing well. I line my pan with foil to save on cleanup time.

DSC_0014

  • Bake in the oven at 325 for about 10-15 minutes (mixing halfway through)
  • Let cool- this gets super crispy crunchy amazing!

DSC_0016

Toddler Muffins

Not only do my husband and I eat “clean”, but so does our 10 month old. I’m well aware that I only have control over what my child eats for a certain amount of time, so my goal is to start good eating habits now. I’ve noticed that other parents in our lives can get pretty defensive on the food they feed their children, like I’m somehow judging them or thinking they are making poor choices. Well if you’re feeding your child Skittles for breakfast, I guess I’d judge that, but in our circle that is not the case. The truth is that I ate a horrible diet growing up. Mostly processed food and garbage, not because my mom was a bad parent, but because I liked it and it was easy. Busy parents love easy…they need easy. What most people don’t consciously know, is that these companies know that too, and profit A LOT off of it. Food companies are not in the business of making healthy choices for you; they are in the business of making money. They hire scientists to come up with chemically engineered flavors with the perfect combination of sugar, salt, and fat to hook you and your children and keep you buying more. Dr. Oz just aired a program showing that these foods are as addicting as cocaine. These are not real foods, but they taste better because that is what they are engineered to do. I think it is our responsibility as parents and consumers to know what we are putting in our mouths and the mouths of our children. I like sharing knowledge, not passing judgment.

I’m also aware that old habits die hard. People, by nature, resist change. I recall my husband having a full-blown adult temper tantrum because our cupboards didn’t have the familiar brands of junk he had bought his entire life. How’s that for brand loyalty! I was somewhat forced into this lifestyle, and the more I read, the more I learned. And frankly, the more I wanted to keep learning.

My most favorite criticisms I get are some flavor of the “well it’s not going to kill you” argument or the “eating healthy costs more money”. I’ll address these one at a time.

* It’s Not Going to Kill You *

Well, that’s debatable. Eating a diet high in processed foods is killing people. Look at our heart disease, obesity, and diabetes numbers in this country. Are you going to drink a soda and drop dead. Probably not. People don’t develop lung cancer after one cigarette either. A friend of mine recently posted something on facebook about her grandma living til 90 eating velveeta cheese and creamed soups. George Burns also lived to the ripe old age of 100 smoking 10-15 cigars a day. You can’t take the exceptions to the rule to make an argument that these are healthy behaviors. Besides, my goal isn’t to live to 100. My goal is to feel good by feeding my body food the way God made it, in as natural a form possible.

* Eating Healthy Costs More Money *

Have you priced out cancer? How about doctor’s visits, medications, and time off work? If I offered you a snack of petroleum or a sip of flame retardant would you accept it and even give some to your kids? Of course not, but people unknowingly do it everyday. 90% of food dyes in nearly every children’s snack including “fruit” snacks and cereals are made of petroleum. Some of these food dyes have been linked to behavioral disorders like ADHD and Autism. BVO or Brominated Vegetable Oil can be found in a popular sports drink and sodas and is a chemical flame retardant not meant for human consumption.

I’ll take my money and invest in the health of me and my family. Do I “stress” about it. No. There is nothing to stress about when you eat whole, non GMO foods. We don’t eat “perfect” either, we’re just doing the best we can!

So there it is. My rant. My new passion. Take it or leave it, it’s up to you.

Now on to a recipe. My family is taking a vacation to Arizona, and I was looking for a recipe that could incorporate some fruit, vegetables, and protein; a muffin of some sort. I wanted to be able to freeze said muffin and pack it to avoid having to cook a lot on vacation and to have something nutritious on hand for the little guy. I came across a lot of recipes with the usual copious amounts of sugar, butter, “vegetable” oil, and white flour. So I took a recipe as a base, removed all the junk, and came up with a delicious little recipe that my little one loves. Heck, they taste delicious to my husband and I too.

Toddler Muffins

2 large peeled organic carrots

2 large bananas

1-2 apples, cored

1 Cup of cooked sweet potato or squash

2 eggs

1 1/2 Cups Gluten free oats

1/2 Cup Water

Dash of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using a food processor, place carrot in first and grind. Next, place the rest of the ingredients and blend til smooth.

Toddler muffins 002

Place in greased muffin tin (I used olive oil), and bake for 45 minutes.

Toddler muffins 003Toddler muffins 004

Makes 12 muffins.

Faux Cream

When you give up gluten, one of the most frequent questions people ask is “What about treats”? Well, lucky for me, I’m an ice cream girl. I didn’t even have a wedding cake at my wedding, instead we had an ice cream bar from our favorite local ice cream shop. I will have the real thing from time to time; however, I usually regret it, and not for the reasons you may think. Since I’ve “reset” my taste buds by giving up sugar, when I do have it, I feel sick from the sugar rush. So I’ve found a great healthy substitute I like to call “Faux Cream”. I certainly didn’t invent this recipe, but I’ve used the base to create several flavor variations.

The ultimate test a recipe has to pass around here is the husband test. He gets extremely skeptical when I make a “healthy” dessert. He still hasn’t forgiven me for my black bean brownie fail. Epic Fail. However, he says the “Faux Cream” passes the test.

Faux Cream; Serves 1

Ingredients:

One frozen banana (I cut mine into chunks and put into freezer bag for ease of blending)

1/2 Cup Frozen fruit of choice (Mixed berries, Strawberry (hubby’s fave), etc..)

1/2-3/4 cup of unsweetened almond or coconut milk

Another great add- in is pure pumpkin and a dash of cinnamon; this is my favorite, but it didn’t photograph well.

Put all ingredients in a food processor or blender.

Blog photos 002

Blog photos 001

Blend, adding almond milk or coconut milk 1/4 cup at a time until desired consistency.

And, voila!

Strawberry Faux Cream…

Blog photos 005

Berry Faux Cream

Blog photos 003

Spicy Shrimp

This is one of my favorite go-to recipes; it’s easy and healthy. Shrimp is an excellent source of selenium, protein, and B12. I LOVE selenium rich foods, as selenium supports thyroid function. On the flip side, goitrogenic foods can slow thyroid function and stimulate goiters. I learned about this early on when I had a goiter in my neck. Had being the operative word here. I attribute its disappearance to clean eating, avoiding goitrogenic foods, and being stabilized by my meds. So a word about goitrogenic foods:

Goitrogens are substances that naturally occur in certain foods and are said to interfere with the production of thyroid hormones. You may be surprised that some of the most commonly consumed “health” foods contain goitrogens; cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, bok choy, collard greens, brussel sprouts, strawberries, peaches, pears, peanuts, pine nuts, and soy. Most sources believe that the goitrogenic material are largely destroyed when said foods are cooked; which is why I’ve resumed eating them in moderation and cooked.

If you’re avoiding goitrogenic foods, omit the broccoli and sub in green beans or sugar snap peas. Add brown rice if desired, or keep it grain free for my Paleo friends.

Spicy Shrimp

Ingredients:

8 Tablespoons Water

4 Tablespoons Organic Ketchup

2 Tablespoons Gluten Free Soy Sauce

4 Teaspoons Cornstarch

2 Teaspoons honey

1/2-1 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper (to your desired spice level)

1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil or Coconut Oil

6 Cloves of Garlic, minced

Vegetable of choice; I used Broccoli, Carrots,Mushrooms, Pea Pods and Red Onion (about 3 cups of vegetables)

16 Ounces of cooked, tail off shrimp

In a bowl, combine first 7 ingredients. Set Aside.

Brad and Brooke Engagement 039

Next, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Briefly saute garlic, and add vegetables.

Brad and Brooke Engagement 040

Saute for about 10-12 minutes.

Add shrimp and sauce. Cook and stir until sauce has thickened; about 3-4 minutes.

Brad and Brooke Engagement 045

This recipe serves 4 and is 240 calories per serving.

Halfway through P90x: Results

I’ve been spending time testing and modifying new recipes; probably the biggest change is now I’m cooking REAL food (aka NO MORE Purees) for my 9 1/2 month old. Needless to say, I’ve been busy! The recipes are coming, but for now I want to talk fitness.

I’m just about to begin week 6 of P90x, and I’m very pleased with the results I’m seeing. I’m so pleased with beachbody products, I’m considering becoming a coach in the near future…we’ll see. So without further adieu….

Six month progress pic

The picture on the left was taken at a wedding 2 months after Nolan was born. I had lost 25 of the 65 pounds I had gained. I was displaying symptoms of hyperthyroidism at this point, but didn’t know what was wrong with me. It would be another 3 weeks before I was diagnosed. The picture on the right was taken last Saturday on a date night to the opera with my hubby; back at pre-pregnancy weight!  I’m not one to toot my own horn, but I gotta say, I am darn proud of myself! I’ll never forget the endocrinologist telling me that I may not ever lose the pregnancy weight with Hashimoto’s. I could have just chose to “throw in the towel”, but I find what motivates me is someone telling me I “can’t” do something. I’m stubborn. I will do my darndest to prove someone wrong.

I log everything; workouts, calories burned, food consumed. I love data. I decided to put a number to what it took to lose the weight with a thyroid disorder. It took 9 months, 190 hours of exercise (5-7 hours a week on average), and 289 miles of running (during the summer months). Oh yeah, and a unquanitified amount of dedication and support from my fitness motivational group, a few choice friends, and family members.

It’s not always fun or easy, but it’s been worth it!

Clean Eating with Venison

You know the old saying “bringing home the bacon”? Well, my husband brought home the deer meat; 54 pounds of it. I typically abstain from red meat, mainly beef, but venison is much leaner than beef.  A 3-1/2 ounce portion of lean ground beef has thirty-one percent more calories, 189 percent more fat, and 118 percent more cholesterol than an equal amount of venison. Clearly, not all red meats are created equal. Venison does have more calories per ounce than turkey or chicken, but venison has less cholesterol than either white meats.

For all intents and purposes, venison is organic; there are no additives or hormones administered. My husband and fellow hunters processed the meat, so I know exactly what spices were added, and know there were no nitrites added to the sausages either. Plus, venison is a great source of protein, so in my book, we’re dealing with a health food here!

Perhaps my favorite thing about clean eating is trying new recipes and “cleaning up” previously loved recipes. The following can be made with any meat really, but if you have some venison to use (I know I definitely do!) give ’em a try.

Venison Roast

Ingredients

  • 1 venison roast (3 to 4 pounds)
  • 10 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 7 medium carrots, quartered
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • Beef Stock

Directions

  • Cut 10 deep slits in roast; place a garlic clove in each slit.  Combine the rosemary, onion powder, garlic powder and thyme; rub over entire roast. Cover; refrigerate for 2 hours.

DSC_0010

  •    Add 1/2 in. of Beef Stock to a roasting pan or a dutch oven. Place the roast, carrots and onions in pan.

DSC_0013

  • Cover and bake at 325° for 1-1 1/2 hours or until meat is tender.

Be careful not to overcook; venison can get pretty dried out if overcooked.

*********************************************************************************************************

Venison Lasagna (Noodle-less)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 white onion, died
  • 1 pound venison
  • 1 15 ounce can organic diced tomatoes
  •  3 tbsp tomato paste
  •  3 tbsp Italian Spice blend (marjoram, thyme, rosemary, savory, sage, oregano, & basil)
  • 1 tsp salt
  •  ½ tsp pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  •  1 pound zucchini (1 greed, 1 yellow), cut into rounds
  • 2 cups plain greek yogurt
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese (if you want to be really adventurous and ensure “clean” cheese, you could make your own I hear; however, I was not that girl tonight…maybe another time)
  • 1 head of broccoli, chopped
  • 1 egg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  • In a large skillet, heat olive oil and add onion and venison. Sautee until venison is browned. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian spice, salt, pepper, and garlic.

DSC_0032

DSC_0023

  • In a medium bowl, combine egg, Greek yogurt, ricotta cheese, and broccoli. Mix well.

DSC_0024

  • Spray 13X9 inch Pyrex baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place a layer of zucchini rounds evenly across the pan forming the bottom layer. Top with a layer of venison mixture (half the sauce). Top with half of the yogurt/broccoli mixture. Repeat.

DSC_0021

DSC_0027

Bake for 45-60 minutes.

This is such a flavorful dish that is low-carb and stock full of protein. This recipe serves 6, with each serving a measly 283 calories and a huge 40 grams of protein.

DSC_0034

I have enough venison to make this dish 53 more times 😉

 

 

Thyroid Disease Awareness Month

January is Thyroid Awareness month, so it only seems fitting that I take some time to spread some knowledge.

thyroid-7b1

The Thyroid Gland is a small butterfly shaped gland located at the base of the neck. It influences the functioning of many of our important organs including the heart, brain, kidney, liver, and skin. The thyroid gland secretes hormones that influence your metabolism and body temperature. Any abnormalities of the thyroid gland and the level of hormones produced by it can cause various health problems. The most common thyroid problems are hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, goiter and thyroid cancer. In short, a healthy thyroid is very much necessary for a healthy body.

Thyroid Conditions (Taken from WebMD)

  • Goiter: A general term for thyroid swelling. Goiters can be harmless, or can represent iodine deficiency or a condition associated with thyroid inflammation called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
  • Thyroiditis: Inflammation of the thyroid, usually from a viral infection or autoimmune condition. Thyroiditis can be painful, or have no symptoms at all.
  • Hyperthyroidism: Excessive thyroid hormone production. Hyperthyroidism is most often caused by Graves disease or an overactive thyroid nodule.
  • Hypothyroidism: Low production of thyroid hormone. Thyroid damage caused by autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s) is the most common cause of hypothyroidism .
  • Graves disease: An autoimmune condition in which the thyroid is overstimulated, causing hyperthyroidism.
  • Thyroid cancer: An uncommon form of cancer, thyroid cancer is usually curable. Surgery, radiation, and hormone treatments may be used to treat thyroid cancer.
  • Thyroid nodule: A small abnormal mass or lump in the thyroid gland. Thyroid nodules are extremely common. Few are cancerous. They may secrete excess hormones, causing hyperthyroidism, or cause no problems.
  • Thyroid storm: A rare form of hyperthyroidism in which extremely high thyroid hormone levels cause severe illness.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

CHECK YOUR NECK!

You can perform a simple exam to help with early detection. You can simply feel around the base of the neck for any lumps or swelling and/or stand in front of a mirror, take a sip of water and swallow feeling and looking for enlargement of the neck.

I’ve mentioned that I suffer from a thyroid disease called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which also makes me hypothyroid. When I was first diagnosed, I had a pretty sizable goiter. After 6 months of hormone replacement and my lifestyle changes, I am ECSTATIC to report that my goiter is GONE! I had an appointment last Friday, and my endocrinologist said, “You are an example of a well treated thyroid patient.”